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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Ayr United v Partick Thistle – 18th February 2023

Six days on from a valiant cup defeat against Rangers at Ibrox, Partick Thistle got back to league business as Kris Doolan took charge of his first game as the Jags’ interim manager.

The Maryhill men faced Ayr United at Somerset Park in the teams’ third meeting of the season with the previous two contests having produced a combined 11 goals as the home side triumphed on both occasions.

There were three changes to the team that fell just short at Ibrox in the Scottish Cup with captain Ross Docherty, Steven Lawless and Anton Dowds coming into the starting line-up having been substitutes the week prior. Lee Hodson and Connor McAvoy dropped to the bench while Brian Graham missed out on the matchday squad completely due to the suspension he picked up against Cove Rangers in the side’s last league fixture. Cole McKinnon was back on the bench having been ineligible for the game against his parent club, Rangers.

Thistle were defending the Railway End for the first half but almost started the game like a runaway train as some hard work, endeavour and luck allowed Anton Dowds to set up Scott Tiffoney with a tackle-come-pass that got the ball to the winger on the edge of the six-yard box. Ayr ‘keeper Charlier Albinson was alive to the danger and smothered Tiffoney attempts to fire the ball into the net and give his side an early advantage.

The away side were then dealt an unexpected blow when Anton Dowds, who had made a lively start to the game, went down with a hamstring problem. After a brief assessment it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to continue and Danny Mullen was readied as his replacement.

Despite that change, Thistle were able to maintain control of the opening stages though shots on goal were pretty sparse. Albinson had to be alert once again as he grabbed a low Danny Mullen cross ahead of the onrushing Kyle Turner and Aaron Muirhead had a pop at goal from 35 yards which never truly threatened the Ayr goal.

The Jags’ patience would eventually pay off, however, as a well-worked passing move led to the opening goal just after the half hour mark. It all started with a loose Ayr pass which was intercepted by Stuart Bannigan before the ball was then shifted over to the left-hand side. It came back over to the right flank via Kyle Turner and Ross Docherty allowing Steven Lawless to feed it through to Jack McMillan. The full-back lifted a first-time cross into the hosts’ box allowing Danny Mullen to attack it and power a head past Albinson to break the deadlock – his third of the season.

Things could have got even better for Doolan’s men at the end of the first half as Scott Tiffoney burst forward and slotted a pass through to Kyle Turner. The midfielder danced past one defender and looked to apply the finishing touch but couldn’t keep his effort down as the ball sailed into the terraces behind the goal.

It was the visiting team on the front foot to start the second half and another chance to double the lead came and went with 52 minutes on the clock. It was created by Steven Lawless on the right win as he cut onto his left foot and lifted a cross towards the back post. Scott Tiffoney was waiting there but could only glance a header past the upright meaning the score stayed at one-nil.

After that, the goalmouth action slowed down which prompted a raft of changes for the home side as they looked to force their way back into the game. In response, Kris Doolan brought Connor McAvoy and Lee Hodson on for Steven Lawless and Kyle Turner as the team pivoted to a five-at-the-back formation.

Thereafter, the Honest Men dominated the ball but still struggled to create clear-cut opportunities. Long-range shots from Daire O’Connor, Paddy Reading and Nick McAllister among others did little to worry Jamie Sneddon in the Thistle goal.

There might have been some slight panic, however, when Dipo Akinyemi eased Kevin Holt off the ball on the right wing and looked set for a clear run towards the Thistle box. Dogged defensive work from Stuart Bannigan made it a bit less straightforward for the Championship goal machine and his eventual ball into the six-yard box was easy meat for Jamie Sneddon.

Up at the other end Thistle almost struck on the counter as Aidan Fitzpatrick was fed the ball by Stuart Bannigan in the Ayr half. A slip from Alex Kirk left the Thistle winger one-on-one with Sean McGinty and after a quick move to his left, he was able to get a shot away. It was powerfully hit at the near post but Albinson had stood his ground well and made the save to keep the game alive.

Ayr continued to push right until the final whistle but their relentless long balls into the Thistle box were repeatedly seen off by the Jags’ back three and the Maryhill men held out to earn the three points and move to within three points of Ayr.

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